THE past week has been an adventure and a half for Bear Ghylls and his trainer Nicky Martin.
The unbeaten hurdler’s trip to Cheltenham was KO’d by rain – just days after he was stranded in snow.
Martin’s Exmoor yard was cut off from the outside world after several inches of the white stuff hit last Sunday.
Her gallops were completely buried and a tractor had to rescue their horsebox.
But the vehicle was eventually freed and able to slalom 1,300 feet downhill to Philip Hobbs’ stable – allowing Bear Ghylls to carry on his work.
Martin told Sun Racing: “We are smack bang in the middle of Exmoor and when the weather sets in it can be an unforgiving place.
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“The gallops were out of action because of several inches of snow and we couldn’t get the lorry out of the yard.
“We managed to tow it out and get Bear down to work at Philip Hobbs which has thankfully kept the show on the road.”
The abandonment of Cheltenham is definitely a spanner in the works.
But Martin, who owns the horse with her partner John Simpson, knows she has something a bit special on her hands.
And he is very much part of the family having been named after Simpson’s kids – not because he eats bugs and drinks his own pee!
Martin said: “Myself and my partner John take it in turns to name our horses and his boys nicknames when they were growing up were Bear and Ghyllie.
“So he’s not actually named after who you might think – but it works pretty well!
“We’ve had him since he was an unbroken three-year-old and he is such a lovely horse to deal with at home.
“He is so easy to train and so laid back.”
He is a different beast when on a racecourse, though.
He won a bumper on his debut by a jaw-dropping 19 lengths, and three wins over hurdles have sparked dreams of the Ballymore at Cheltenham in March.
Martin said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked after his bumper. I knew he had some talent but I had no idea he was that good.
“He gets so pumped when he goes to the races, he tanks along and loves his job.
“He’s foot perfect when we school him at home, but the adrenaline of a race is so much for him he tends to plough through his hurdles at the moment.
“He needs to brush up on that if he is going to go to the Festival, but he has so much raw ability and he will make a very good chaser next year.
“We wanted to run him at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day but that was called off and now this weekend’s meeting is off.
“We will find another race for him, and that will decide whether he goes for a Ballymore or a handicap.
“But I certainly hope he is good enough for a Grade 1.”
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